Colorado allows sale of Marijuana edibles

Jars containing various strands of medical marijuana sit behind a display case at the River Rock Medical Marijuana Center in Denver, Colorado, on May 16, 2013. (Anthony Souffle/Chicago Tribune/MCT)

On Jan. 1, 2014, the state of Colorado began allowing the sale of recreational Marijuana edibles in stores, and storeowners can’t keep products in stock.

Since the introduction of marijuana edibles to stores, those shops such as LoDo Wellness Center in Denver cannot seem to keep the products stocked on their shelves. Shop owner Linda Andrews told ABC News in a recent interview, “We got a new supply in last week and sold out in an hour.” Stores such as LoDo have had to place limits on the amount each customer can purchase and still struggle to keep up with demand.

Products are being produced by companies such as Dixie Elixirs and Edibles, the current number one seller of marijuana edible products. Sales of products have increased at such large numbers for this company that a new 30,000 square foot facility needed to be built in order to keep up with the supply from shop owners according to an article Alyssa Newcomb of Good Morning America.

Among the marijuana edible products being sold are chocolate bars, Dixie rolls and drinks.
Consumers can purchase such THC infused drinks as sparkling peach, sarsaparilla and red currant.
Other edible products include truffles and mints of varying flavors. Other products such as pills and extracts sold by the Dixie Elixirs company are still only available through their online store.

There are currently over 26 stores within 200 miles of Denver selling Dixie Elixir and Edibles products according to the companies store locator website. Storeowners such as Andrews are reporting as much as a 300 percent increase in the sales of marijuana edibles since the launch in January. Currently EBT cardholders in Colorado can even use their benefits for the purchase of these marijuana edibles.

While Colorado Legislature is tightening its grip on marijuana, Michigan is reporting a decline in both the patients using medicinal marijuana and the caregivers selling the product in 2013. New laws are making it even more difficult for users and growers alike in the state. Advisor & Source magazine listed the number of patients has dropped from 124,131 to 118,368 but the number of licensed caregivers fell by almost half from 50,188 to 27,046.

The “get tough” laws that restrict who can grow and what is allowed could have a negative effect on Michigan as the state brought in $10.9 million in 2013 for licensing fees according to Advisor &
Source and less users could mean a decline in much-needed income for this year. The decline comes after an aggressive enforcement of medical marijuana laws in Oakland County during 2012.

Oakland County Undersherriff Mike McCabe told Advisor & Source, “I wouldn’t say aggressive. I would say law enforcement and prosecutors were following the law. Some chose to lay back and wait for the courts. What occurred in Oakland Country, the courts have proven we were correct in our interpretation of the law all along.”

States such as Colorado continue to debate the details concerning legalization of marijuana but many agree actions have been beneficial from a fiscal standpoint. In a recent article from the Denver Post reporter Kristen Wyatt stated, “Saying some neighborhoods have more pot shops than banks, Colorado Democrats on Wednesday rejected a proposal to ban the use of public assistance cards to obtain cash at marijuana-shop ATMs.”

The legislation banning EBT cardholders from obtaining cash benefits from pot stores was voted 3-2 against by the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs committee. Concerns have been raised however by such senators as Vickie Marble concerning the use of such assistance money for the purchase of marijuana.

Marble told Denver post reporter Kristen Wyatt during an interview that if the federal government gets wind of the use of EBT benefits for the purchase of an illegal substance there could be trouble the state of Colorado is not prepared to combat. Despite the concerns raised the legislation failed to pass and in the meantime residents of the state can purchase marijuana edibles through cash or EBT benefits.

But not everyone in the state of Colorado is thrilled about the recent decision to allow sales of recreation marijuana goodies and the lax in laws regulating the substance. A bill proposed by Colorado Republicans seeks to allow marijuana dispensaries to be placed in gun shops, liquor stores and casinos – places where EBT recipients cannot access cash from their cards. Republicans are attempting to use the loophole in state laws to assure EBT cardholders do not spend their state funds on marijuana sales.

According to Colorado Representative Jared Wright there is currently no regulation stating that EBT benefits cannot be used to purchase marijuana.

“This is meant to be preventative. Clearly, these entitlement dollars are meant to help the poorest of the poor amongst us that need the dollars just to get by. We just want to make sure the money is not being used for an addiction or for purchasing a drug that is frankly, still illegal under federal law,” Wright said during a recent radio interview with KIRO Radio host Dori Monson.

Until such time that legislation passes banning the use of EBT benefits to purchase marijuana, stores will continue allowing both cash paying customers and cardholders to purchase such items.
The majority of Colorado residents that agree with the new allowance of recreation marijuana edibles are purchasing the items faster than it can be shipped, showing that in the state there is far more demand than supply.

While Colorado has moved forward very rapidly, Michigan has begun baby steps towards the legalization of marijuana products. A recent policy decriminalizing the possession of one ounce of marijuana has passed in three cities as of Nov. 7, 2013. Ferndale, Jackson and the capital city of Lansing are taking initiatives to remove the local penalties on adults found to possess small amounts of the drug in private homes according to the Michigan Marijuana Project.

MPP stated that the policy was left up to the city residents by vote. In Jackson 69 percent of voters said yes to the removal of local penalties, 61 percent in Ferndale and 62 percent of voters supported the decision in Lansing. Grand Rapids, Detroit, Flint and Ypsilanti approved similar policies in 2012. Currently in these seven cities residents found with “personal marijuana” in their homes will not be subjected to punishment at the local level of law but law enforcement may still chose to inflict state penalties at this time.

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